Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cooking for a Crowd

This weekend, some friends and I are in charge of cooking a large meal for an organization that we are a part of. This meal has to serve about 75 people, so it's a pretty big deal! This is the third year in a row that I've been a part of this yearly process and, though it can be stressful at times, it's actually really fun! I get quality time with friends cooking and making mass amounts of delicious food! That's all I really need to be happy. I'm excited to just plunge in and do it. Here are a few tips I would give for cooking for a big crowd:

  1. Know your guests! Well obviously with a guest list of that size, you do not personally know all of your guests. We certainly do not know them personally, but you should know what they can eat, what they should not eat, if there are any allergies you should be aware of, and their dietary habits (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free). Knowing that you cared enough to make a menu full of food that they can actually eat means a lot! It's difficult and takes extra effort, but it really pays off in the end.
  2. Have a plan...and stick to it! Know your budget and the type of food you can get with your budget. Sure, we'd all love to have free range, organic everything but it's expensive and when cooking for a crowd, it's best to just stick with the basics. Chances are, your guests won't even notice the difference if the food is made and served with care. 
  3. Seek out help. Lots and lots of help! Don't do this alone! It's stressful and unnecessary for one person to handle an entire meal. Grab a few other pals and have them come to your rescue. It will make you feel so much better. 
  4. When cooking everything, set timers for everything! Cooking food in excess can lead to lots of food needing to be in the oven at the same time, but they do not all need the same amount of cooking time. Set timers for everything know which is which. It's kind of a lot to keep track of, but it's worth the hassle and your food won't be burned or overcooked.
  5. Label every food item! Make sure that your guests know what is in everything so that they know whether it fits their dietary needs. It's a little detail, but it's very important.
  6. Make sure that the spread looks appealing and thoughtfully placed. Even though you may have a bunch of different foods doesn't mean that they all have to be slapped on the table. Thoughtfully plan where everything is going to go and the order in which the guests are supposed to serve the food. 
Here's a few things that we're planning on making (and I'll document the process to show you guys next week but in the meantime):


Strata

Spinach Spaghetti
Stromboli! It's so doughy, hot and delicious!


These are the items that will definitely take the most time and work but they are really worth it and guests have enjoyed them in the past. Of course there will be sweets, crackers and cheese, and a few other goodies that I will share. 

Has anyone had to cook for a large crowd? What did you serve? How did it go? 
I love entertaining and cooking for people and this is just so fun!
We're getting ready for parent-teacher conferences, so things are busy around here! But I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope you ladies are all having fantastic weeks! The weekend is just around the corner!

~Susan



















10 comments:

  1. oh my word all that food looks delicious. eating dorm food all the time really makes me crave some home cooked meals!

    xx Emily @ laughliveandshop.blogspot.com

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  2. Such great tips...and yes it can be difficult...but good to find the right menu! :)

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  3. The spinach spaghetti looks amazing! Definitely want to try that soon. Thanks for the great tips!

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  4. oh man 75 people, good luck susan!! those tips are right on and those dishes look so good cant wait for the recipes :-)

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  5. Wow, 75 people. That's a a lot. Great tips. I would love to have a stromboli.

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  6. Oh wow! I bet, although stressful, it was probably a ton of fun! 75 people is impressive!

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  8. Good info, many thank you to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the particular usefulness and importance is overpowering. Thanks again and good luck!
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Thanks for your sweet comments! They make my day and I appreciate every one!